Zhongshan Square is the place where the cheerfulness of the Chinese life can be witnessed and experienced from close quarters. It is located at the intersection of Zhongshan Lu and Nanjing Jie and serves as the primary attraction of downtown Shenyang. The square was first built in 1913 but since then has been reconstructed several times.
Various things were added as part of attempts in beautifying the area until it was metamorphosed into it present state. Just like its looks, its name too had undergone several changes with the course of time. During its initial period, the square was known as the Central Square. This name was then changed to Langsu Square in 1919 and then to its present Zhongshan Square during the rule of Kuomintang. However, during the Cultural Revolution, this place was referred to as Hongqi Square but since 1981 the name Zhongshan Square gained back its prominence.
When Zhongshan Square was reconstructed in 1956, a fountain was built in its very centre to add to the magnificence of the place. But that was just the beginning. The square as we see it today is mostly the result of a large-scale reconstruction project undertaken in 1969. It began on 7th May, 1969 and the first phase was completed on 28th September of the same year. Phase II began on 13th, May, 1970 and reached completion on 1st October, 1970. It was during this time that a huge glass-made statue of Mao Zhedong was erected at the very centre of the square.
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The 10 meter high statue of Chairman Mao that dominates the landscape of the Square has emerged as one of the most popular and easily recognized landmark of this place that spreads over an area of 26,400 sq. m. Donning an overcoat, the great Chinese leader looks towards the city's shopping centre. With his fist raised in the air and his foot stepping forward, this grand statue exudes the very spirit and energy that has always remained associated with this great Chinese leader. However, in spite of the deep political undertone of the statue, it is common for the locals to joke that Mao’s upraised hand is hailing a cab. This fiberglass statue has the figures of students, peasants and soldiers at the bottom.
They are seen waving Mao’s most famous ‘little Red Book’ that explained the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party to the people of the country. Although time has taken a toll on many of these figures, they still embody the fervor and the spirit of revolution. And, the statue in its entirety reminds one of the Party seizing power, the foundation of a new China and the construction of Socialism.
The Square is also at the nucleus of much of the Shenyang's culture and entertainment. It serves as the meeting place for artists and calligraphers, hosts soccer matches and musical programs and is the preferred rehearsal space for dancers and musicians. As the day draws to a close and night falls, the place is filled up with local people engaged in various kinds of activities like soccer, singing, dancing, tai chi, skipping, water painting and calligraphy. It is a good idea to take a stroll down the square on a summer evening. For, the glimpse that it offers into the essence of the Chinese life is something that a tourist would hardly want to miss.